I illustrated Bill Simmons NBA Trade Value column for Grantland last week with some notable NBA players. I had to do the player portraits relatively quick so I had to come up with a simple style for these and focus on the most noticeable attributes.
Grantland Quarterly Issue 4 is coming out very soon, here is an illustration I did for the article “Why Did Kobe Go to Germany?”. This article is about the experimental medical procedures that Kobe and other athletes have been going abroad for due to legal issues in the US. It is uncertain how beneficial these different treatments are, so I based this on old comic book ads for x-ray specs and other shady products.
New NBA logo, I’m feeling pretty good about this one.
Like the 76ers, the Pistons are one of the 8 original NBA teams still in the league. They are not doing too well this year, but . There have been 2 significant eras in the Pistons organization, where they won their 3 championships:
The Bad Boys era (80s-early 90s)
Physical, blue-collar, balanced, defensive team led by Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, a young and sane-looking Dennis Rodman, etc. Won championships in 1989 and 1990. If they weren’t rivals of the Celtics I feel like I would have loved these teams.
…the other good teams (2004-2006)
Physical, blue-collar, balanced, defensive team led by Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and my all-time favorite Piston, Rasheeeeed Wallace. Won it all in 2004. They were one of the more unlikely championship teams because they had no superstar player. This team could have continued to contend for championships if they didn’t go ahead and draft Darko Milicic ahead of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh in 03′.
Yup, this happened. The team started in 1941 in the NBL as the Fort Wayne (Zollner) Pistons in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Owner Fred Zollner owned a foundry, which manufactured pistons for car engines, so that explains that. I can’t decide if this is supposed to be a guy in an Iron Man-esque piston suit, or a piston robot with human hands, but either way its pretty cool. The detailed illustration is a lot more impressive compared to other team logos from this time.
This is stright from Wikipedia, but “In 1949, Fred Zollner brokered the formation of the National Basketball Association from the BAA and the NBL at his kitchen table.” In 57′ he moved the team to Detroit and adopted this new logo. This is pretty generic stuff, at least the robot had some connection to the team name.
For 20 years or so the logos were pretty similar. This last one was definitely the best, but looks the least like an actual basketball?
This one is about as ridiculous as the previous ones are plain. It’s a great example of the over the top borders and whatnot that a lot of the modern logos suffer from. I do like that they tried to tie it into the car theme with the horse (horsepower!) and exhaust pipes, but it’s a little too much and the color scheme is garbage.
After a few years they at least went back to the blue and red colors. Good for them.
And here we are, the current logo. First, the positives: They stuck with the blue and red, and that does actually look like a real basketball. The font is pretty bad and this is still really generic. You could insert any city/team name here. If you were ordering cheap reversible jerseys for a basketball league, I feel like this would be an option.
Basically, I wanted this to look almost like a car logo. The team name and the city they play in is such a good match, and the current logo doesn’t reflect that at all. The text in the logo was heavily influenced by the Heuer logo, which has nothing to do with cars (shit) but I thought it had the feel of an old car logo.
Like I said before I did like the horse in the older Pistons logos, so I wanted to include that. One big inspiration for the horse was the Mobil pegasus logo. I also looked at a lot of Art Deco-style hood ornaments from old cars. these are perfect because they are simple and have a great sense of speed.
The NBA is back in less than a week, and I’m back with another team logo.
The 76ers are one of the 8 original NBA teams still around today. They haven’t been championship-contenders since Iverson’s first tour with the team, but I would be surprised if they weren’t back in the playoffs this year. Thats all I have to say about them.
In 1963 the Syracuse Nationals moved to Philadelphia (the Philadelphia Warriors conveniently moved to San Francisco the same year) and became the 76ers.
The new logo was clearly inspired by the Revolutionary War, with 13 stars for the original 13 colonies. As overly patriotic logos go, this was a lateral move from the USA map/stars and stripes from the Nationals logo. I really like how simple this logo is. I’m not sure why the 7 is so weirdly shaped, but overall we are off to a solid start. Hoops-wise, the team beat the Celtics and went on to win its 2nd championship in 1966/67 led by Wilt Chamberlain. Boston had won 8 championships in a row, but I still like to think that Bill Russell was pissed about this one.
In 1976 the team acquired Julius Erving (Dr. J) after the NBA-ABA merger, got sold to a new owner, and lost the the Blazers in the NBA Finals. Just when things couldn’t get more exciting, they introduced a new logo with the “ers” text and a sweet volleyball-looking ball behind their old logo. Are there any basketballs in old-school NBA logos that don’t fuck up the seams on the ball? Ridiculous. Anyway, the 76ers won another championship in 1982/83, when they basically started 5 All-Stars, including MVP Moses Malone.
Fast-forward to 1996: the team drafted and got rid of Charles Barkley, and are the worst team in the league. #1 pick Allen Iverson joins the team, rocks cornrows, breaks ankles, etc. The next year the team releases this new logo and black/gold color scheme. The black and red outlines on this annoy me. However, I had a pair of these 76ers shorts that were pretty much my favorite piece of clothing when I was 12 or 13, so I can’t hate on it too much.
2 years ago the team decided to go back to their old logo with some slight changes. I like the nostalgia, but they could have done this better (fix the lines on the damn ball).
Finally got around to another NBA logo. What better time to think about rebranding your team than coming out of a lockout? I couldn’t decide to go with my original idea(with the player) or the simpler version, so I’ll post both.
2 memorable Pacers teams since I have been watching basketball:
The mid-90s team that battled the Knicks every year in the playoffs, led by Reggie Miller, 7’4 Dutchman Rick Smits, and the Davis brothers. Check out the awesome documentary about this team, Winning Time.
The 2001-2003 teams, notable for strip club shootings, and beating the shit out of some fans in the infamous Malice in the Palace brawl in Detroit.
Last season the Pacers snuck into the playoffs and lost in a close series to the Chicago Bulls.
The Pacers franchise started in the ABA in 1967. The team appeared in the ABA Finals five times, winning 3 championships, and finished as the most successful team in ABA history. This logo is kinda cool but the ball clearly looks like a tennis ball, and the hand is a little off.
In 76′ the team was one of 4 ABA teams that merged with the NBA. Because of financial trouble, the team announced that it might have to be sold and moved elsewhere. Luckily a local TV network held a telethon to sell enough season tickets to save the team, a goal they apparently reached 10 minutes before the show ended. This sounds like a horrible 70s movie.
Not much interesting happened to the Pacers for a while, except trading away their 1984 draft pick, which turned out to be the #2 pick…which they could have used to pick Michael Jordan. Anyway, they drafted Reggie Miller in 87′ and went on to be pretty successful in the 90s. I like the P with the ball better than their old logo, but the double P bothers me.
In 2005 the Pacers used this updated logo, adding a gray border around the P for some horrible reason. This is slightly worse in every way.
The name Pacers is apparently a reference to harness racing(a kind of horse racing) and the pace car in the Indianapolis 500 race. I wanted the logo to have a sense of speed but also keep it pretty simple. I think I could have drawn the player a little better because it doesn’t look great at small sizes, so maybe the version without him is better. Anyway, I leave you with this incredible poster I just found:
When I posted my last NBA team logo, the team almost switched cities on me. This time I pick a team that comes out with a new logo and new uniforms while I’m working on it. My timing is impeccable.
I don’t have much to say about the Wiz. I think they went from the best team name in the NBA to possibly the worst, which makes it easy to forget about their long history as the Bullets.
They always seem to have some interesting young players, but haven’t been able to do much in the playoffs. They could be dangerous in a few years if John Wall turns into an All-Star and stays with the team. This year they finished 23–59, but on a brighter note, center Javale McGee recently dunked 2 basketballs at once in the dunk contest. Good times.
I had to post this picture on the right because I was absolutely baffled by it. What this gray-haired old man is doing stepping foot on an NBA court with Bird is beyond me.
In 1963 the Chicago Zephyrs (formerly the Packers) moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and became the Baltimore Bullets. There are certainly some things I would change about this logo, but it’s pretty awesome. After watching 5 seasons of The Wire, this logo seems fitting for Baltimore.
In the 1969/70 season, the Bullets adopted a new logo, and eventually moved to Washington D.C. in 73′. I can see why the team might not want actual bullets in their logo. I used to like this logo more but looking at it now, the s is pretty messed up. In 1978, the Bullets finished 44–38, and somehow went on a crazy playoff run to win their only championship, led by Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld.
In 1995, the team announced that it would be changing it’s name. Owner Abe Pollin claimed that the high homicide and crime rate in D.C. in the 90′s made him uncomfortable with the name. The team held a contest to find a new name, eventually settling on Wizards. This name ended up being equally controversial because apparently Wizard is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan. Bad times all around. The team colors changed to match the Washington Capitals, and NHL team owned by Pollin. I’ve never really liked this name, or logo, or colors. Something about that W made by the wizard’s beard just pisses me off.
Here is the new logo the team released last week. It looks like they are trying to get closer to the old Bullets branding with the colors and typography. The wizard looks a little better, but I think they would have been better off starting with something new.
It isn’t easy to make a wizard look cool. My idea from the get-go was to use the negative space from the overlapping Ws to create the shape of the wizard. I soon realized that a big white wizard with a pointy hat was not gonna be acceptable, so I had to work around that. The blue and red, and the simplified typography are athrowback to the old Bullets logo that I liked so much.